By Donald Zuhn --
Earlier today, the U.S. Patent and Trademark Office commemorated the 30th anniversary of the Bayh-Dole Act with a special program at its headquarters in Alexandria, VA. The program featured congressional leaders who were instrumental in the passage of the legislation, including former Senator Birch Bayh (D-IN) and former Representative Robert Kastenmeier (D-WI). The Bayh-Dole Act, which passed on December 12, 1980, created a uniform patent policy among the many federal agencies that fund research, enabling small business and non-profit organizations -- including universities -- to retain title to inventions made under federally funded research programs. According to a statement issued by the Office, "[t]he legislation is credited with the creation of thousands of new companies and billions of dollars of direct benefits to the U.S. economy."
Mr. Bayh noted that "[a] handful of determined men and women made the law a reality and have preserved it for 30 years," and added that "[n]ow we need new hands to help carry the message of how valuable Bayh-Dole is to the continued health and wealth of the United States." Mr. Kastenmeier said that the legislation takes advantage of "a unique American cycle of innovation," wherein "[w]ith the help of federal funding, university researchers discover and create solutions that open new opportunities for technology transfer." He added that "[t]he Act is constructed on the solid foundation of intellectual property to stimulate economic growth and job creation for the benefit of society at large." USPTO Director David Kappos observed that "[o]ver the past thirty years since its passage, Bayh-Dole has managed to spark innovation and capture the value of federally funded research on university campuses across the country." He also noted that the legislation's benefits "reaffirm the basic understanding rooted in our Constitution that the issuance of patent rights promotes advancements in both science and commerce."